VAT battle shifts to Supreme Court as Rivers challenges order

The Rivers State Government has approached the Supreme Court, challenging the order by the Court of Appeal that parties should maintain status quo in the Value Added Tax dispute.

In the notice of appeal, the Rivers State Government is arguing, among others, that the “Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law when they relied on the provisions of Section 6(6) of the Constitution and the inherent jurisdiction of the court to found their decision to make an order to maintain status quo which they identified as restoring the parties to the position they were before the judgment of the Federal High Court in FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 was delivered on 9th August 2021.”

Rivers State is also arguing that “the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law when they wrongly assumed jurisdiction to entertain the oral application for maintenance of status quo made by the counsel for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (the 1st Respondent herein) in spite of the fact that a condition precedent to the invocation of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal was not fulfilled by the first respondent.”

The PUNCH had earlier reported that the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, had on August 9 declared that the Rivers State Government and not FIRS should collect VAT and Personal Income Tax in the state.

However the Court of Appeal on Friday held that parties should refrain from giving effect to the judgment of the trial court in Port Harcourt pending the hearing and determination of the application of the FIRS to stay execution of the trial court’s judgment.